Citizenship and migration: Questions of identity and belonging

English: Coat of arms of the Philippines

English: Coat of arms of the Philippines (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

by Mayumi Futagami

As I read the article “Citizenship and immigration: multiculturalism, assimilation, and challenges to the Nation-State,” I am reminded of my own family’s multi-cultural experiences with Japanese culture and Filipino culture. The book says that “immigration challenges and reaffirms identity” (Bloemraad, 2008) I also think that is true, because immigration makes you know and acknowledge a new environment in which you will be found out anew. These new things will change your knowing about the culture that you used to know.

Citizenship is important to have a legal status of “belonging to a country”. I know that we should belong to a country to group ourselves. However I have this kind of doubt for those people who have double blood lineage of other countries. Do we really need to be divided? How can we answer questions such as: What is your nationality?

In a situation in which you are born in the Philippines, your mother is Filipino, and your father has Japanese nationality, because of visa problems these parents have to apply for you to have Japanese citizenship because that citizenship makes it easier to go abroad. They think of your future. For instance my sister is “half” Japanese and Filipino. When you ask her what her identity or nationality is, at home she will proudly say “I am both Japanese and Filipino”, however when you asked her outside (e.g. supermarket, malls, schools) here in Japan, asking “Are you Filipino?, she will say “urusai” means “shut up”.

I feel that citizenship also matters through images. The rule of Japan that you could have a dual citizenship until age 22 is like just giving you time to think. It makes it really complicated for those young people for they are forced by the imagined tradition of the society. Citizenship makes the pressure of participation model in the society (ibid). When you say that your citizenship here in Japan is different, even if you have the lineage blood of Japanese you may feel a little shame. For as the transnational says about the image of your home country or maybe the home country of your mother or father, maybe both, does make differences good or bad. You may also think is true for the superiority of the country in which you live (e.g. comparing Japan and Philippines).

I don’t really feel ashamed of where I come from in social saying that I have Filipino and Japanese blood. However, it makes me feel sad and embarrassed when they compare those 2 countries in culture or tradition or daily lifestyles. It is because when they say something about it I feel like a little loss of which identity. I feel that why do we need to choose between 2 nations to find citizenship?

Sweden adopted dual citizenship in 2001 (ibid.). I envy this kind of policy in some points that when I am here in Japan I could say that “I am Japanese”, and if they say that “no you’re not”. I could say that, “even though I am Filipino I have Japanese citizenship.” As well as I go back to the Philippines I could also say the same thing because I already have the both culture that already compiled in my daily life.

Migrating for me here in Japan at first was a big challenge for even though I am Japanese in DNA, I felt at that time I am completely Filipino. However, as I migrate here and my father is Japanese I could find myself that I have the capacity or right to have the citizenship of Japan. I applied for it and did easily get it. I just feel it’s strange that we really need to have one kind of citizenship to define what kind of people we are. And some are forced, for there is what they called the “beautiful culture” of Japan and some “bad image” of the Philippines (in which people come to Japan to find jobs) which affects children.

Of course there are some exceptions of having the citizenship of the host country, e.g. Japan. Either you are born there, live there for long years, or marry a citizen there. This could happen to people who are old (come for work) or young people (come for education), etc. Taking Japan as a place where people migrate, there are many people do this and that they could find some loss of identity. Even though they are fully strangers in the host country, they feel that they somehow belong to it for they were able to adopt the culture and lifestyles.

A friend of mine in school here also feels that even though she is not really Japanese she could feel that she “culturally” and “traditionally” belongs to Japan. I don’t mean that it is citizenship that matters, I just mean that citizenship relates to identity. I see that citizenship is easy to answer when you never been out of the country. However as you try to move, taking the question where I belong is a really hard question, especially when you need to choose. I think it is not a matter of the society but also matters from your family decision of what to choose. I thought one reason was the importance of culture, or how advantageous it is to have that citizenship in the country or even overseas.

That is why I feel that citizenship matters in many aspects, where you belong, what you take important the most (culture or superiority), and more. In my point of view, citizenship is a hard thing to choose. However if I just think which is better for my future, Japan or the Philippines, maybe I certainly choose Japan as my citizenship for it will be easy for me to travel abroad.

“Making a choice” or “forceful separation”?

by Kyungyeon Chung

On the walls of immigration bureau offices in Japan, one can easily spot posters regarding dual citizenship. As the Japanese government does not recognize dual citizenship of its citizens, these posters usually say something along the line of  “let’s make it clear: choose your nationality,” “make a choice: no more duality.” Somehow, the rhetoric of posters seems to suggest that dual citizenship is unclear, undesirable, and duplicate, and thus a negative thing.

Today, in the face of increasing immigration and the growing flow of goods, services and persons across state borders, the concept of dual citizenship has arisen as a politically hot topic. While some argue that the recognition of dual citizenship is simply a legislative act that allows freedom, many believe it means more than granting of an extra passport. Opponents for the recognition argue it will complicate bureaucratic administration for the government. However, the most prominent argument behind the opposition is that the concept is not compatible with what “citizenship” entails. Citizenship has long been associated with state-control over its people – ‘citizenry’ – and, as T.H. Marshall defined, “a claim to be accepted as full members of the society” (Bloemraad, Korteweg & Yurdakul, 2008). Dual citizenship effectively challenges this idea of state-control as it allows the person to be a member of two separate societies, eligible for two separate sets of privileges, and obligated to two separate sets of duties.

Screen Shot 2014-05-26 at 1.17.07 PMThe confusion it causes is understandable. However, forcing one to choose one citizenship over another – the father’s over mother’s, the birth country over the country of residence, or vice versa – is this reasonable? In an opinion article from the New York Times, Mark Krikorian, the executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies argued that, for US nationals, engaging in dual citizenship basically means renouncing US citizenship, and is an absurdity that should be prohibited (2014). However, having two passports cannot possibly mean that one is betraying their ‘native’ country. For many immigrants, their children, and expatriates around the world, dual citizenship is about having freedom of association. Just because a person has moved from his/her native country to another, it does not mean he/she automatically renounces, forgets, or even wants to distance from the past. As time passes their emotional attachment and/or political participation can grow in both countries. In such situations, denying the chance of dual citizenship forcefully imposes what a person’s identity should be or where his/her allegiance should lie – does this not qualify as an infringement on freedom of personal choice? It effectively forces them to officially renounce their past so that they can be ‘loyal’ citizens of the present country of residence. If that’s what opponents want to achieve by invalidating dual citizenship, how effective could this possibly be anyway in forming allegiance?

It is more likely that dual citizenship is an irreversible and unavoidable occurrence in the face of globalization. Multiple national, racial and ethnic identities will continue to grow unabated no matter what governmental policies are in place. Recognizing multiple nationalities may be a nuisance for many governments, especially the ones who believe in their perceived ‘homogeneity’. Yet, eventually, the time will come that they have to admit the presence of diversity within the artificially set state borders.


Bloemraad, I., Korteweg, A., & Yurdakul, G. (2008). Citizenship And Immigration: Multiculturalism, Assimilation, And Challenges To The Nation-State. Annual Review of Sociology, 34(1), 153-179.

Krikorian, M. (2014, January 30). An exclusive relationship. International New York Times. Retrieved May 18, 2014, from

法務省 (The Government of Japan Ministry of Justice). (n.d.). 国籍選択について (About choosing nationality). Retrieved May 18, 2014, from


Reconsidering Japan’s Denial of Dual Citizenship

by Ji Soo Kim

An anonymous writer on the internet started her sentence with, “I am a Japanese mom and sold my son to France today.” The writer’s family has been living in France for 20 years, and she made her son acquire French citizenship so that he could  take state examination and receive state scholarship.

The writer said “people back home think we are no longer good patriots. But they cannot imagine how much we miss our home. The patriotism grows bigger when we live abroad.” Making a big choice, the mother wished Japan’s allowance of dual citizenship. She was scared that losing Japanese citizenship would have a negative effect on her son’s Japanese identity.

Having dual citizenship means that two countries recognize you as their citizen. Currently, Japan does not allow dual citizenship. Citizens of dual citizenship must choose one or the other before turning age 22. Japan is not an ethnically diverse country and Japanese government fears chaos the interferences of foreign human resources will bring. Allowance of dual citizenship will make many citizens to lose their patriotic heart toward Japan. Additionally, there are people who misuse and abuse dual citizenship to avoid certain laws or to request special admissions.

The reasons to not allow dual citizenship are reasonable. However, on the other side, global human resources and patriots will be lost due to inevitability of making a choice such as the case mentioned above. Japan in a need for further globalization could be helped by the globally raised children. As the Japanese child in France chose French citizenship, he will not come back to Japan and work for Japan; rather he will work for France. In these cases, Japan is not only losing a globalized future workforce, but also a citizen who could show nationalism. The possibility for this family to come back to Japan and live decreased, and there are many other families in the same situation.

Current Japan believes that there are more cons to pros in allowing dual citizenship. But is this true? Isn’t Japan losing other important things? Looking case by case, it is beneficial not only for the individual but for the nation to give some individuals dual citizenship. As the world is becoming smaller and a country can no longer stay as a pure nationalistic country, Shouldn’t Japan consider a way to benefit both the individual and the nation within the control of dual citizenship?


Hafu issue and Japan

by Kensuke Ikeda

There are a lot of hafu whose parents don’t have the same nationality all over the world and there are many Japanese hafu in Japan. I found though movie about hafu that hafu cannot accept adequately in Japan because some Japanese people regard hafu as foreigner and other Japanese people don’t have interest in them. Also, hafu tend not to have own identity because they have difficulties for finding their origin and nation. Hafu issue, I think, is based on the lack of identity. The lack of identity is related to some questions are “where am I from” and “who am I”. Now we (my classmate and I) have discussed the situation of hafu and some students recommend multicultural education and global political policy for improving the idea for Japanese hafu on Facebook.

Of course the multicultural thinking is important, but the thinking is not perfect because the multicultural education is taught only to younger people such as school students. Therefore I suggest another way that Japanese government should allow for hafu to get two nationalities and follow the wave of globalization.

First I explain first solutions. To begin with, you should recognize the cause of lack of identity for reconsidering the issue. The loss of identity has relationships to the citizenship of hafu. They have to choose their nationality and citizenship in some countries such as Japan and Korea compared to the USA. In other words, these governments force hafu as minority to abandon one side right of their nations without getting double nationality. In my opinion, Japanese government should make room for hafu to have double nationalities and identities.

Second I introduce another method for solving hafu issue. Japanese people still tend to keep from foreigners because Japan is said to be a racially homogeneous nation and Japanese people get used to treat foreigners. On the other hand, globalization is advancing by improving IT such as the Internet and SNS. If this globalization is increasing, naturally the number of hafu will increase and the kinds of hafu pattern are more various, and then the environment for hafu in Japan will be changing. In other words globalization makes Japan racially multination. Therefore, I suppose that Japan should be more global and Japanese people get more opportunities to treat hafu. If this solution can, hafu will not need their identity because they could have the sense of belonging. They are treated as just a “human”. They would not lose something they could rely on.

Japan and Hafu Nationality

by Reina Doi

Imagine that your parents have an international marriage (one of your parents is Japanese), and you are living as hafu in Japan. In your house, two type of cultures are mixed, and you belong to two countries through your experiences. However, if you were 22, you would have to choose one country as a nationality. You used to have two nationalities that your parent’s home country, but you can choose only one nationality, so you automatically have to abandon one nationality, though you have two countries’ identity.

Do you think that situation is unreasonable? I think many people think “I want to keep both nationalities like before!”. However, this is real story that hafu people face. In Japan, dual citizenship is not admitted, and as I say before, hafu are forced to choose one nationality by age 22. Many countries such as America, France and UK allow dual citizenship, and hafu get guarantee from country.  Why Japan does not admit like other countries? I think the reason relates to dual citizenship demerits. In America, there are many immigrants from all over the world, and America give citizenship for them. It seems good, but American government does not officially support dual citizenship, because if person has two nationalities, it would be trouble when person committed one country’s law. Besides, it is annoying to some Americans that some people might come to America for giving birth, and the children get American nationality, and then go back to their home country.

Thus, dual citizenship has some negative aspects. However, I think Japan should allow dual citizenship. Globalization is coming to Japan too, and we cannot stop this stream. Some people believes that Japan is homogeneous country, but that is not true. Many foreigners are lived as a worker and international marriage is getting more and more. Therefore Japan should prepare that follow globalization. Japan does not have enough care and guarantee for foreigner, and even hafu. Hafu is also increasing (one out of thirty baby is hafu) recently, so Japan have to think whether continuing present nationality’s system or not. I think giving up one nationality means forcing to lose one own identity from government, so Japan should give right to choose that hafu choose one or keep two nationalities.

To join global society, Japan should quit old system, and accept new style. More people should come, and Japan’s lived foreigners and hafu will increase. Therefore I think it is time that Japan prepare and take action for hafu to live better in Japan.

Nationality and Citizenship in Japan

by Shoki Fujimoto

As we studied in EKK class, Japan forces its people who has right to possess foreign nationality to choose one nationality. In short, we can have only one nationality in Japan. This is because Japan does not allow dual citizenship. Japan has kept the system for a long time. However, I found an article that created a stir in the field of citizenship in Japan. The article says that one member of the House of Councilors who was born in Finland petitioned abolition of the system of choosing nationality. According to the article, the hard choice made the “victims” anguish and because of it, superior human resources are leaking out of Japan. The politician named Martti Turunen thinks that we are facing a time that we should consider the present states of abolition of dual citizenship.

The netizens in Japan reacted against this petition. The main reactions of them are that we are not confronting the time of reconsidering dual citizenship and Japan should keep its systems. Moreover, the fact that Martti Turunen is supporting the movement of promoting voting rights for foreign residents. Conservative netizens have argued that the policy might destroy Japanese local small community.

I think this series of debate is largely biased by their political thought, but I think this can be a chance of reviewing Japanese way of regarding citizenship and nationality. I will check the merits and demerits of the policy. First, with it, people who have dual citizenship can go to both parent’s home countries easily. Next, they do not have to apply for permanent-residence visa. Negative opinions are that the policy can cause identity crisis, and it makes procedures of disembark difficult and complex.

Japan has been said that “homogeneous country”, and Japanese people have not have to think about it because of (thanks to) it. This has some relationship between insubstantiality about mixed ancestry people, hafu. I learned that most Japanese people have only positive image about hafu by the video we watched in a class. However, the realities of hafu were different from our fantasy over them.

In conclusion, Japanese people have had a fantasy of monoracial country, and it has made reviewing the value of mixed ancestry people or hafu. Martti Turunen’s policy created a chance to reconsider such situation. It is time to reconsider such situation.


GCNET [](retrieved May 9,2013)

Serchina [] (retrieved May 9, 2013)

Ministry of Justice [] (retrieved May 9, 2013)

Should Japan Allow Dual Citizenship?

by Masataka Yamamoto

Recently, globalization has made many foreigners come to Japan to get jobs but not for only sightseeing. However, there is strict law of dual citizenship in Japan. Compared to Japan, some countries, for example, U.S. has loose law about dual citizenship and many foreigners can be citizens of U.S., even if their parents were not born in U.S. As this situation, many workers from foreign countries cannot get any protection or services from Japanese government and because of this, foreign workers has facing with difficult time to spend hard life in Japan. If Japanese government allow dual citizenship, foreigners who already living in Japan and who has some plan to live in Japan make more comfortable. As I mentioned previously, U.S. has loose law about dual citizenship compare to Japan, so foreigner in U.S. can get protection or services easily and that can make foreigners able to have better life.

However, to having dual citizenships have both advantages and disadvantages. To start from advantages, people who have dual citizenship can go and back to both two countries easily. For example, people who have only one citizenship have some procedures to get in to country A, but people who have dual citizenship have few procedures than people who have only one citizenship if that people have citizenship of country A. However, there are also disadvantages to have dual citizenship. For example, most of people who have dual citizenships are “hafu” people. They might feel their identities belong to country which grew up, but some of them had difficult time with figuring which country they belong to. If people who had an experience of living half of their life in country A and other half of life in country B. Their identities were mixed up with both countries and they confused by which country really belongs to. Eventually, those people might lose nation awareness of which country they belong to and their identity of who they are truly.

In conclusion, it is better to allow or loose the law about dual citizenship in Japan because it has strong advantages other than I mentioned and those will help foreigner to live better life. Also, “hafu” people in Japan don’t have to choose which country they belong to and not imposing by Japanese government so they can have both identities. However, allowing of dual citizenships also has disadvantages so government has to set a baseline carefully.


The choice of nationality. Retrieved May 8, 2013 from

GCNET. Retrieved May 8, 2013 from

Ministry of Justice. Retrieved May 8, 2013 from

Should Japan allow dual citizenship?

by Ryuhei Sugiyama

Today, in international society, some countries such as the U.S., Australia, and Canada allow people to have dual citizenships legally. In these countries, there are a lot of immigrants from other countries and various types of races. Therefore, the rate of international marriage or over-ethic marriage is higher than the countries that do not allow people to have dual citizenship like Japan. Japanese government does not allow dual citizenship because of a bias or stereotype that “Japan is the homogeneous nation.” According to the Constitution of Japan, Japanese people who have dual citizenship must choice either of two by 22 years old. If people choice the citizenships of other country, they legally treated as “foreigner” through their life in Japan.

To be begin with, why do people have two citizenships? This is because each country adopt different requirement to give citizenship to the people. Some country adopt Jus sanguinis, the notion that regards blood of their parents as important, and some country adopt Jus soli, the notion that regards birth of place as important. Until international society standardizes the requirement of the citizenship, those who have dual citizenship will exist in the future. In addition, the extinction of the stateless person is also one of the biggest problems of international society because these people cannot get any protection or rights, and this strengthens the possibility of violation of fundamental human rights. From these reasons, people are given a citizenship, or in some cases given two citizenships.

There are some merits for people who have dual citizenships. First, these people can come and go both two countries easily because they do not have to get the visa. These people have relatives in both countries, so this convenience is helpful for them. Second, it relates to the determent of wars by increasing the number of people who have plural patriotisms on plural countries. This claim is argued positively in the U.S.

Even if dual citizenship has some merits, Japanese government do not allow it. According to the opinion of the Ministry of Justice, dual citizenship will make legal unfairness between people who have it and who do not have it. In addition, increasing the number of people who do not have the patriotism on Japan will have a bad effect on Japan. For these reasons, government force people to choose the citizenship into one.

In the end, should Japan allow people to have dual citizenship? Actually, dual citizenship has strong merits, and these merits are very helpful for them. However, the unfairness also cannot be overlooked. On one occasion, dual citizenship is profitable for them, but on another occasion, it is unfavorable for them. On the other hand, the way of giving the citizenship also has a problem. Japan adopt the way base on the blood of their parents. In this way, for example, people who have American parents and grow up in Japan cannot get the citizenship of Japan nevertheless they may have an identity as Japanese. However, that is not to say the way that bases on the place of birth is good. The important thing is preparing rules for forming individual identities, not imposing of them. Come to think of this, dual citizenship should be allowed after all because the choice of citizenship may mean the imposing of an identity. Today, the number of “hafu” is increasing sharply in Japan, and the condition drastically changed the one in half century ago. Therefore, today’s laws are not enough to correspond to the complex situation in Japan. Government should prepare rules in older to cope with complex situation flexibly, and admitting of dual citizenship may one of the solution of it.


The choice of nationality. Retrieved May 8, 2013 from

The different treatment of dual citizenship. Retrieved May 8, 2013 from

The treatment of dual citizenship. Retrieved May 8, 2013 from

Should Japan Allow Dual Citizenship?

by Satoshi Tanaka

Through  globalization, a lot of companies have an office and a factory in foreign country, and people have many opportunities to work overseas. However, Japanese government allows people to have citizenship of only one country. As a result, Japanese people who work in a foreign country cannot get a service as citizen of the country without resigning their Japanese citizenship. However, getting other citizenship makes people difficult to come back and live in Japan. In some countries, government allows people to have dual citizenship, and it helps people to work in other country, but I think that dual citizenship has also some disadvantages.

Dual citizenship has both advantage and disadvantage. Firstly, getting dual citizenship makes people feel more comfortable to work in foreign country. For example, people have no right to vote for the person who governs the country where they live if they have only Japanese citizenship. Moreover, people cannot get service without citizenship there such as a support of a fee for medical care and education. Therefore, dual citizenship gives people a support to live in the country. However, it also has demerits. Dual citizenship makes the tax system much more confused. Which government do people have to pay tax to? Which government do people get pension from? Now, tax and pension are already very complex problem which the government has. By introducing dual citizenship, the government must manage people who work all over the world.

Then, I suggest that people have two types of citizenship, main citizenship and sub citizenship. This system has the advantage of dual citizenship and solves the disadvantage which it has. First, this system gives people services such as medical care support and education in the country where they work like dual citizenship. Moreover, this system solves the problem of tax and pension. By dividing two citizenships into main and sub, it is easy to divide tax into the tax for home country and the tax for the country where people work. Moreover, this system makes people more flexible to change the second citizenship because they have the main citizenship.

In conclusion, following the globalization, the opportunity to work overseas is increasing. The current system of citizenship cannot support people to work in foreign country. I think that Japan should suit the change of the society by introducing dual citizenship. However, dual citizenship has still disadvantages. Then, allowing two types of citizenship, main and sub, makes up for the weakness of dual citizenship.

Will Japan accept dual citizenship someday?

by Rina Yoshikawa

Since the word “globalization” has become popular all over the world, many people began to meet new people that have different language or culture each other. Migrating to new countries for better jobs and international marriage are not unusual things anymore and it is easier to move across borders now.

However there are still many problems to live over borders since we do not share all the same laws or rules in the world. Even some policies have completely opposite views between countries. One is how nationality is granted when child is born that depends on whether the country takes “jus soli” or “jus sanguinis”.

I have a friend who is half-Japanese and half-French, born and grown up in France. She owns both citizenships since French law grants nationality based on the child’s place of birth and Japanese law grants nationality according to the child’s blood relations. She is now turning 22 and has to give up one of the citizenship. She is aware that she is comfortable with being as French but is not completely true. Since she was young she has tried to know what Japan is like and studied Japanese to communicate with her relatives living in Japan. It must be hard to choose one from two that both consists one’s self and cannot be changed.

Not only her but there are millions of people in a same situation in Japan. Children cannot choose where to be born. This is just adults’ ego in a society. Japan put too much emphasis on nation’s loyalties that are believed only who owns Japanese blood, are able to behave just like Japanese and looks like Japanese. Other excuses tend to be left away. I feel like this is just we are trying to protect ourselves and stay where we are without any advance or moving backward.

To allow dual citizenship is a big issue that concerns many things which may change Japanese society or even history drastically. It takes few years to adjust between international laws and Japanese ones. However, I think those people in a neutral situation have right to insist on both citizenship just like what they are. We cannot draw a complete line for it. Those cases that hold international matters such as mixed children will be more familiar since globalization develops more and more, and society needs to catch up and make changes as it goes. Japan is not an isolated island anymore.